Boozy Drinks

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre {}

Cuba Libre {}

I am gathering courage, like fallen stepped over confetti following a New Year’s Eve situation; getting ready to admit something so shameful I should probably walk with a paper bag over my head for a few days.


I dig Barry Manilow.

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Warning: The rest of this post will sound muffled.

Paper bag. Over my head.

I dig Barry Manilow. I haven’t been to any of his concerts – Gosh no – I have a rep to protect. BUT! If you play Copacabana I am jamming to that shit like it’s Notorious B.I.G.

Cuba Libre {}

In fact, I love that song so much that for the past 4 years I’ve been trying to convince my family to dress as the song Copacabana for Halloween.

It’s awesome – Admit it.

I want to dress up as old decrepit drunk Lola. Mr. M.O.B. can dress up and prison Rico, still wearing a diamond, prison stripes, and sporting an old Jheri Curl wig. My son can dress up as black eyed, ghost Tony.

Cuba Libre {}


It hasn’t happened. One of these years…

Flow with me, let’s talk about Cuba Libres.

Cuba Libre {}

Like mojitos and daiquiris, the origins of the Cuba Libre vary. Some say it was invented in Cuba during Cuba’s liberation in 1898; other sources claim Coca Cola wasn’t even available in Cuba until 1900, after Cuba’s Liberation. We’re not sure. Do we care?

Cuba Libre {}

I don’t care.

I’d like to believe the drink was created right when Cuba was liberated – Because a war cry uttering the phrase “CUBA LIBRE!” appeals to me.

I’d also like to believe that right before the punches flew, chairs were smashed in two, there was single gunshot, but just who shot who – Rico was served a Cuba Libre at the Copa – Copacabana.

Cuba Libre {}

The hottest spot north of Havana.

OK – I’m sorry.

I’m breathing life into this a drink; a drink which if history serves correctly (and it usually doesn’t), is over 110 years old.

It needs some paddles.

Stand back…


A Cuba Libre is just rum, coke, and lime juice. I want to bring out those lime notes with the addition of lime simple syrup. Let’s add just a splash of vanilla extract to that – For a bit of complexity.

Cuba Libre {}

A rum situation – Light or dark – And let’s be about this old timey life for a second; use Coca Cola made with sugar instead of corn syrup. You know, like when Cuba was free that one time.

All that’s left is your dress cut down to “there”. Dance merengue, or do the cha-cha with one of these jammies in your hand. Pretend you’re at the Copa – Copacabana – The hottest spot north of…

Cuba Libre {}

Oh, the shame of it all…



Make the lime simple syrup

  • Juice and zest of 3 limes
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Make the Cuba Libre

  • 2 tablespoons lime simple syrup
  • 1 lime cut in quarters
  • 1.5 ounces light or dark rum
  • Ice
  • Coca Cola preferably made with sugar instead of corn syrup


Make the simple syrup:

  • Combine the lime juice and zest, sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Stir to combine and over high heat bring to a rolling boil. Once the mixture has boiled reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has a slight syrup consistence. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about an hour. Strain the zest and store in a glass container with a tight seal until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups of lime simple syrup

Make the cocktail:

  • To an 8 oz glass, add the simple syrup and limes. Mash the lime slices with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon until the limes are fragrant. Add the dark rum and stir to combine. Add ice and top with Coca Cola.

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